Revisiting Education and Patient Advocates’ Certification

Attendees at our recent AdvoConnection Business Institute had a variety of topics and issues they wanted to discuss. Follow up surveys and emails produced even more, including some questions that, over time, will be answered to our best ability. Some will be answered during teleconference call-ins, others through our fabulous advisors, and one or two will be addressed right here on the blog.

One question that pops up frequently regards certification. As I’ve written before, and as is true today, there is no such thing as a nationally recognized patient advocacy certification – period. Therefore, there is no such thing as a “Certified Patient Advocate.”

However, from the conference, came this question, “If you go through a certificate program, you are not a “certified patient advocate” – Why the certificate program then?”

I believe this question comes from a misunderstanding about why certificate programs exist.

Patient advocacy certificate programs do not exist to create “certified patient advocates.” They exist to fill holes in one’s knowledge.

When considering health advocacy as a career, it’s rare that most have the ability to go into business with no preparation. The key, before they start, is to go through a list of what they still need to learn.


  • services you hope to offer that you don’t have experience with
  • background knowledge on how the healthcare system works
  • and, if you plan to be in business for yourself, perhaps the most important thing one needs to learn is the basics of running a business. (Someone can have the best advocacy skills ever developed, but with no business-running experience, that person will not succeed.)

Once those knowledge gaps have been identified, then it’s time to take a look at the programs available, whether or not those programs issue a certificate at the end. Determining which of the programs offers the education needed for filling the knowledge gap, plus is accessible.

The current offering of patient and health advocacy programs is actually very good. If you decide you have knowledge gaps to fill, you may find exactly what you need. (Here is one approach to figuring out which is the right one for you.)

Bottom line – pursuit of a certificate program is to help one be successful, not to receive a piece of paper at the end.

But there’s more about certification, too. Learn Why We Should Avoid Using the Title Certified Patient Advocate


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